Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, Aditya Pande, 24 September 2017

The motor vehicle was very quick to replace horses in the early 20th century, and the advent of the electric car suggests that another profound shift in transportation and energy could be around the corner. This column projects how different rates of electric car adoption will effect oil demand and consumption over the next three decades. In a fast-adoption scenario, oil prices could converge to the level of current coal prices by the early 2040s. Even under a slow adoption scenario, oil could become obsolete before it is depleted.

Michael Bordo, Andrew Levin, 23 September 2017

Central banks across the world are considering sovereign digital currencies. This column argues that these currencies could transform all aspects of the monetary system and facilitate the systematic and transparent conduct of monetary policy. In particular, a central bank digital currency can serve as a practically costless medium of exchange, a secure store of value, and a stable unit of account. To achieve this, the currency would be account based and interest bearing, and the monetary policy framework would target true price stability.

Tamim Bayoumi, 22 September 2017

Nine years ago, Lehman Brothers collapsed and the economic world changed. This column introduces a new book that asks how the North Atlantic economy became so unstable that the failure of a medium-sized US investment bank could topple the entire North Atlantic region into deep recession, and the Eurozone into a depression. The answer lies in serial but different regulatory mistakes in Europe and the US starting in the 1980s.

Tom Krebs, Pravin Krishna, William Maloney, 22 September 2017

Research on economic mobility has failed to disentangle the underlying economic drivers. In particular, opportunities for upward movement represent welfare-enhancing mobility, while risky income shocks represent welfare-reducing mobility. This column presents a framework for differentiating between these factors, and applies the model to Mexican data. Results show that opportunity and risk are equally important drivers of income mobility, with large but opposing welfare effects. This challenges the idea that societies with higher measured income mobility are better.

Kalina Manova, Zhihong Yu, 22 September 2017

Pinpointing how multi-product firms organise their operations is key for understanding the drivers of global competitiveness. This column presents a theory on the behaviour of multi-product firms when cost and quality competitiveness jointly determine export performance. Using Chinese data, it finds that firms’ production and sales activity across products and markets is governed by a product hierarchy based on quality. This phenomenon also determines how firms respond to economic shocks.

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